Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Asobi Seksu at the Troubadour

I remember spotting Asobi Seksu as one of the highlighted artists on itunes back in 2006. After some investigating, I ventured out to see Asobi Seksu with Darker My Love at the Detroit Bar.

It was a barrage of fuzzed out guitars that instantly made me a fan of both bands. James Hanna (Guitars) from Asobi Seksu is one of the elite tone merchants in the world of shoegaze guitars. I highly recommend you download their live show from the Echo, the recording does an excellent job of catching their live essence.


Peruvian shoegaze? Yes. They are called Resplandor. Their album Pleamar was produced by Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins fame that raises their stock even more in my book. I can't imagine how hard it must be to break as a band out of Peru.

Resplandor seem to be up to the challenge as they have managed to find their way onto the Indie 103.1 for the glimmering song "Downfall". Aracelli Fernandez (Vocals) was singing underneath the sheets of sound created by her bandmates. I caught the last few songs of their set and was impressed. They will be heading back to North America to play the NXNE Festival in June.


The disjointed rhythms of Battles blasted in between the set changes and served as a good premonition for Bell. Gunnar Olsen (Drums/Samples) drummed along with Battles as he fine-tuned his gear. Jason Nazary (Drums) was behind a full kit of drums and had a laptop to augment their overall sound.

The focal point of the group was definitely Olga Bell (Vocals/Keyboards) with her demure voice combined with cozy synthesizer pads. Bell has managed to accumulate a fair share of buzz with the release of their self-titled EP.

The off kilter stacked rhythms and likely vocal comparisons to Bjork will start to surface as their popularity grows, but the music does speak for itself and has potential. The lack of guitars and bass was interesting in that you focused on the percussion and the accents of Bell's vocals. Bell is en route to SXSW and I will be keeping my eye on them.

Asobi Seksu

I immediately picked up the new album Hush from Asobi Seksu when it was released. My immediate reaction was the album more of a light snowfall compared to the blizzard of Citrus. I quickly became accustomed to the restrained tones of the album and appreciate it as much as Citrus.

Shrouded in near darkness, "Sing Tomorrow's Praise" started to piece itself together as Asobi Seksu recreated the tones of the album to perfection. The tempo started to pick up as the reverb drenched plucked notes of "Strawberries" were audibly delicious with Billy Pavone (Bass) adding a crushing fuzz bass line. My earplugs didn't seem to be dampening the sound as "Me & Mary" viciously pummeled my eardrums.

The tension wrought "Thursday" exploded with Yuki Chikudate (Vocals/Synths) singing softly against the noise storm created by James on guitars. "Familiar Light" was another showcase for Yuki's hypnotizing vocals. The songs from Hush when performed live had extra layers of sound and volume that make Asobi Seksu a must see live band.

A wobbly bass line of "Transparence" puts your head in the clouds that continues to float upward with shiny guitars. Yuki later sampled and looped her vocal "oohs" into a heavenly sermon. James would later take a turn on vocals for "Pink Cloud Tracing Paper" amongst the violent storm of flashing strobe lights.

"Red Sea" was a ferocious closer that culminated into a feedback session with Yuki jumping over to bash on the drum kit. I was torn that I had to miss their Detroit Bar show on Monday due to my commitment to see Primal Scream. Asobi Seksu will be back on May 2nd with Yann Tiersen at the El Rey.

At the end of the noise storm, I was determined to check out James Hanna's guitar setup. My heart immediately sank when I saw James was playing a custom Death By Audio "Fuzz Sound" with various filter knobs. I quickly understood why I liked James's tone so much. Other pedals include a Z. Vex Fuzz Factory, Maxon Super Chorus, and a Boss Heavy Metal pedal.

James Hanna's pedalboards from Asobi Seksu

Asobi Seksu setlist at the Troubadour (3/14/09)
"Sing Tomorrow's Praise"
"Me & Mary"
"Meh No Mae"
"In The Sky"
"Familiar Light"
"New Years"
"Blind Little Rain"
"Pink Cloud Tracing Paper"
"Red Sea"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, the zvex pedal on his board is a Box of Rock, not a Fuzz Factory :)